One of today’s most honored French actresses, Marion Cotillard riveted filmgoers in the role of legendary torch singer Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, winning the Academy Award® for Best Actress. Following a Golden Globe nominated role in the musical Nine, the blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, she recently received another Best Actress Oscar® nomination in Two Days and One Night.
Now, Cotillard takes on a tricky, ever-changing performance as Marianne, the stunning and skilled French assassin who meets her husband Max while she’s portraying an invented persona for a mission, in Paramount Pictures’ gripping romantic thriller Allied.
Though sly deceptiveness and spirited probing fuels their initial affair, Marianne seems happy to leave behind the lies and pretense of pretending to be someone she is not…or does she? Is Marianne still living behind a veil of menacing secrets even as she becomes a wife and mother?
For director Robert Zemeckis, Cotillard brought unerring authenticity, both of nationality and of nuanced emotions. “Marion is an absolutely magnificent actress and with this role, she has a lot of different emotional, psychological and physical dimensions to play with,” he says. “She’s French of course, so she brings that touch of reality but she’s also the kind of performer who can keep the audience completely guessing.”
The script riveted Cotillard on first read. “I love the fact that it felt like a very entertaining thriller and at the same time it felt like a very deep and profound love story,” she muses. “Then, when I heard Bob Zemeckis was on board and Brad Pitt would be playing Max, it was even more exciting to me. Bob is such a visionary director. He’s done so many special movies only he could have created, so I felt it would be really cool to be part of a project that is a new genre for him.”
There was another draw: in a sense, Marianne begins the film as a kind of actress herself, a woman hired to play a role, albeit a deadly one. But that role becomes all too entwined with real life when she falls in love with Max. Marianne posed a fascinating challenge: how to play a woman so caught up in a multi-layered performance that she has lost sight of her own reality. Cotillard believes that amid the confusion of where her national loyalties lie, Marianne only knows for certain that her unassailable love for Max is real – even if that fact puts them in mortal danger.
“Max and Marianne really have such a short time to get to know each other when they meet and right away, they’re both pretending to be other people while facing the possibility they might not survive. So that creates a certain kind of relationship between the two of them immediately,” Cotillard observes. “What was interesting to explore is how that feeling between them of reality being changeable reverberates in their married life.”
Seeing the well-hidden layers of the characters peeled away as the epic action mounts is what makes the film unique, says Cotillard. “I think Allied is equally a story of suspense and one of tragic romance,” she summarizes. “Bob starts with a classic recipe for creating entertaining movies, then takes it in his own contemporary and insightful direction.”
Opening across the Philippines on Nov. 23rd, Allied is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.